Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
In Donbass the fight for orthodox parishioners continues. The representative of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) Konstantin Kuznetsov, who is a military chaplain and the Abbot of the Svyato-Stretensky temple in the city of Konstantinovka in the Donetsk region [the part controlled by Kiev – ed], which was captured in 2015, tries to prevent, with the help of the SBU, believers from collecting signatures in support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). This was reported by the website “Vesti”.
Kuznetsov accused the Vicar Bishop of the Gorlovka Diocese of Spiridon of “supporting evil forces” and said that the visits of the Archpastor to temples of the diocese are “dirty tours”. This is how the representative of the newly created church reacted to the attempts of the UOC-MP to give parishioners the chance to independently express their will and to define the destiny of the temples. He reported about his appeal to the SBU on Facebook, but the leadership of the Security Service in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to comment on this.
The proximity of the line of demarcation with the non-controlled part of Donbass only warms up the situation – nationalists and autocephalists call the believers of the UOC-MP in Eastern Ukraine “separatists”. And the capture of temples happened even before the reception of Tomos, as well as the adoption of the laws on church raiding and on forcefully changing the name of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Archpriest Konstantin Kuznetsov is the Abbott of the Svyato-Stretensky temple in the town of Konstantinovka, which was captured by representatives of the Kiev Patriarchate in the autumn of 2015. Legal proceedings over the temple are still ongoing; the community of the Svyato-Stretensky Parish of the Gorlovka Diocese of the UOC-MP in Konstantinovka initiated legal proceedings concerning its right to the temple, and the actions of representatives of the Kiev Patriarchate are called a raider capture.
The construction of the temple of the UOC-MP in Konstantinovka started from 2011. After the events of Euromaidan and the beginning of the ATO it became known that the local businessman Yury Shapran, who promoted the construction of the temple earlier, became the initiator of the transition of the community to the jurisdiction of “Kiev Patriarchate”. Without the knowledge of the ruling bishop and the Abbot, having misled the Dean of the Iovo-Pochayevsky district of Konstantinovka Archpriest Vadim Ilchuk, Shapran changed the structure of the parish council (something that he, according to the Charter of the UOC-MP, had no right to do), having included his wife, deputies, and people close to him in its structure.
On October 14th 2015, on the Intercession of the Theotokos, some buses with military people on board arrived at the temple, surrounded the church, and carried out a prayer together with a priest from the Kiev Patriarchate.
In 2016, owing to the decision of the Parish meeting on April 15th and on July 10th 2016, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church lost control over the Parish and the temple belonging to it. The Parish Council was replaced with one loyal to the Kiev Patriarchate, and its canonical belonging was also changed.
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